Roughly two weeks ago the Supreme Court announced that they would not be reviewing rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin, effectively expanding gay marriage rights to nearly 30 states. Obviously this decision was a major victory for LGBT advocates that have been working to see same-sex marriage recognized in the United States for decades. In addition, it has had a major impact on the $100 billion wedding industry, including two local businesses who have seen their companies expand as weddings become more inclusive.
Chevy Chase-based WeddingWire and Arlington-based GayWeddings.com announced that in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding same sex marriage, the number of vendors working with these companies who are willing to serve same-sex couples has exceeded 100,000. According to a survey conducted by WeddingWire, roughly 82 percent of wedding professionals now say they are willing to work with same-sex couples.
“For us it wasn’t a question of if it’s going to happen, but when,” Tim Chi, the CEO and founder of WeddingWire said in an interview. “At some point these numbers just become part of the standard wedding industry landscape.”
Wedding Wire began partnering with GayWeddings.com in 2011, as part of a mutually beneficial relationship born out of the expansion of same-sex marriage throughout the country, as well as a shared company dedication to marriage equality. GayWeddings.com, which was founded in 1999, has seen a 104 percent growth in their directory of gay-friendly wedding professionals since March 2013, when the Supreme Court started hearing arguments to strike down DOMA and Proposition 8.
According to Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com, her business saw a small boom in new vendors every time another state legalized same-sex marriage over the past two decades. Now she says most wedding professionals are onboard with working with same-sex couples, and are connecting with their rapidly changing clientele in really engaging ways.
“Professionals that understand the makeup of the modern couple are going to be the most successful,” Hamm said in an interview. “Now the industry is starting to look forward, redefining how we view married couples.”
“The fact that I can close my eyes and see 100,000 wedding professionals standing behind me is truly remarkable on a personal level,” Hamm concluded. “The more same-sex weddings that take place, the faster this growth will take place. If you have 100 guests at a gay wedding, that’s 100 people being transformed on a very visceral level.
While it’s difficult to describe the expansion of gay marriage as a wedding boom, both Chi and Hamm stated that the wedding industry as a whole has benefited from the sudden demand for weddings for gay couples that are now legally allowed to marry. But both business leaders expressed hope that in the near future all weddings, gay and straight, will be viewed equal within the wedding industry.